Traveling to Israel can both exhilarating as well as educational. Whether you are looking for historical knowledge, religious insight or you are just a foodie looking for something traditionally Arab or Jewish, a visit to the walled city of old Jerusalem is a location that you should not miss during your visit to the amazing and diverse country of Israel. With the variety of people and cultures all intermix in such a close proximity there’s no end to what you might get to see on a daily basis. While spending time in the old walled city Jerusalem you are able to visit the four different cultures that all call old Jerusalem home. Yes there is a difference between the old city and the modern city. The “old city” is completely surrounded by giant fortress wall. This wall was built between 1535 and 1538, it runs about 2.5 miles in length, it is almost 40 feet tall and over 8 feet thick. This fortress wall also boosts 34 watchtowers as well as 8 gates to enter this great city.
On the inside it contains many of the same roads used during the time of David. While inside the walled city you can explore the four different people groups who all live within the walls of this great old city, a city dating back to very early biblical times. In one small city you can have lunch the Muslim quarter, take a short walk to the Jewish quarter for some shopping and around another corner visit the church that was built on top of Calvary, the place of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the Christian quarter, all within footsteps of each other. You probably noticed that while it was earlier discussed having four different cultures within these walls, only three of the fourth group where mentioned. The fourth quarter is the Armenian quarter. This quarter is generally closed to non-Armenians, unlike the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim quarters the Armenian people stay to themselves, there are no restaurants, shopping or entertainment for non-Armenian residents. For visitors to the old walled city of Jerusalem there is only three of the four corners where you can visit to explore their people, their food and to learn and enjoy the culture.
Within these ancient walls of old Jerusalem you will find one a few places on earth where you can intermingle and witness the coexistence between the three major religions of the world, the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, and see them live as one cohesive city unit in relative peace all within this ancient city walls. The city and territory of Jerusalem have been fought over for millenniums. All the way back to 4500 BC during the Canaanite period, into the time of the Egyptian rule around 1500 BC. There was the time of the Kingdom of David in 1000BC through the Babylonian time of enslavement in the 700BC era. In the mid 500BC period the Persians were in control and Alexander the Great came into power in the early 300BC era. Rome took control in about 63BC and was still in control during the time of Jesus. The list of victors of the ever changing power struggle continued over the next 2000 plus years until we come to the Jerusalem of today. In this ever changing region it is amazing to have a community which is so vastly different with regards to both religious belief as well as dramatic cultural differences be able to live together relative in peace and harmony.
There are rules and regulations that allow these three vastly different cultures to live in relative harmony. One example of these rules occurs when you want to visiting of the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock is located within the Muslim quarter and off-limits to those of the Jewish faith. What you might not know is that this particular location is holy and sacred to both the Muslim community as well as the Jewish community. The Muslim community currently controls this sacred site. This site marks a location where Mohammad ascended back to Mecca. For the Jewish community it is the site where Solomon’s temple was located before it was destroyed. Both communities stake claim to this mound and as of right now the Muslim people control the top leaving the outside edges to the Jewish people
If you’re allowed to visit the Dome of the Rock you must be a non-Jew and you are not allowed to bring anything of religious significance in with you, whether it’s the Torah or Bible or any other religious work. Women must wear head covering, if you happen to come up to the top without one they will sell you one to wear during your stay. There’s also a dress code, gentleman must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves and women must be dressed modestly without their arm showing preferably in long pants or skirt.
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About the author
The Traveller, is no one person, several have added to this book, all have a love for Israel and all things Israel